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These political leaders had the biggest carbon footprint in 2018

Jul 04 2019 07:00
Siraj Datoo, Bloomberg

Some of the most dramatic moments from last week’s G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, turned on the debate about climate change, with US President Donald Trump split from his counterparts on the need for action.

But when it comes to impact on the environment, Trump isn’t the G-20 leader with the highest carbon footprint, according to an analysis of international flights taken by leaders of the group in 2018. That unwanted prize belongs to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who travelled almost 130 000 miles last year.

Trump took fewer overseas flights than his counterparts, the booking portal From AtoB said in a report on G-20 travel. Asian leaders Moon Jae-in and Xi Jinping also featured high on the list. But like Abe, they typically have to travel further to meet their counterparts.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t make the top five. She took 51 flights, 10 of which were to and from Brussels for Brexit negotiations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also didn’t rank near the top, despite taking 83 flights. Her trips were much shorter journeys.

The analysis also takes into account the model of plane used by the various leaders, noting that Trump’s Boeing 747-200B emits the most carbon dioxide of any other plane. It didn’t appear to include support aircraft or staff that often accompany leaders on their journeys.

Here’s a fuller list of the carbon footprint by the leaders:

1. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: 14 442.1 tons   

2. US President Donald Trump: 11 487.3 tons

3. South Korean President Moon Jae-in: 11 461 tons   

4. Chinese President Xi Jinping: 8 280.3 tons 

5. French President Emmanuel Macron: 7 645 tons  

6. Russian President Vladimir Putin: 7 615.7 tons 

7. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: 7 477.3 tons   

8. German Chancellor Angela Merkel: 7 325.1 tons 

9. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: 6 394 tons

10. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: 5 087.7 tons  

11. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: 3,308 tons   

12. UK Prime Minister Theresa May: 2 277.6 tons 

13. Former Brazilian President Michel Temer: 1 662.7 tons   

14. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: 1 662.7 tons   

15. Spanish Prime Ministers Mariano Rajoy / Pedro Sanchéz: 985.3 tons

Note: Australia, Switzerland and Indonesia did not provide any travel information, and the King of Saudi Arabia did not undertake any overseas state travel in 2018.

carbon emissions  |  carbon footprint
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